STEUBENVILLE - Thanks to Bob Howell, 50 men who've fallen onto hard times will be outfitted with a new winter coat and coveralls.
Howell, owner of Howell's Army Surplus, 1905 Cadiz Road, Wintersville, donated the insulated coats and coveralls to the City Rescue Mission Wednesday.
Howell said he just wanted "to help the community."
DONATES COATS — Bob Howell, left, and City Rescue Mission Director Harry Kellermier look over several of the insulated military surplus coats and coveralls the Wintersville businessman donated to the mission this week. Howell, the owner of Howell’s Army Surplus, 1905 Cadiz Road, Wintersville, donated 50 coats to help those in need keep warm during the winter months. - Linda Harris
"I buy lots of surplus," he said. "It's getting to be that time of year, and I'm sure there are people who need them so I donated them."
It's a first for Howell, who said he'd talked with Rescue Mission Director Harry Kellermier about the need for things like warm coats, beds and food for those in need.
"What's happened is over the last three years our numbers have doubled," Kellermier said. "We used to average 15 people a night; now, it's about 30."
Kellermier said the change is a product of the economy: Jobs have been lost, money is tight. "The demographics have changed, too," he added. "For 30 years, one out of every five (we served) was female. Now, we get two men for every one woman, and the children - we used to have to handle 10 children in a whole year who'd stay here with their family. Now, sometimes we have 10 children at one time."
Kellermier said the donation "helps a lot." The Rescue Mission, a United Way agency, provides temporary shelter to men, women and families in crisis. Those in need may stay up to 30 days, though he said they "don't turn anyone away."
"Our funding is through the thrift store, mainly," he said. "We've never applied for or received federal or state money. We're community supported."
He said the need "seems to be getting bigger" every day.
"It's a good time of year for this donation," he added. "A lot of people are travelling from one spot to another. This place is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. A lot of times people show up late at night and leave who knows when."
Howell said he's been in business for 30 years, though the surplus store is a new venture.
"I've been fortunate," he added, conceding he could have sold the winter garb, "but I just thought that at this time of year, I'd try and give back to the community as much as I can."
"It's a very practical, basic, gift," Kellermier said. "It's something they can use very day. Having nice, warm, dry clothes is an important thing to these people."